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The call for nominations for ACA’s Thomas Jefferson Award brought an absolute flood of responses from The Netherlands concerning one man: Michael (Mike) F. Gallagher, who finished his Foreign Service career of nearly 40 years as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in The Hague. He served there under three ambassadors – and as chargé d’affaires in the absence of an ambassador – until his retirement from active service in December 2009.  In the course of this, in addition to his official duties, he won the hearts of Americans living in The Netherlands.

He and his wife Martha opened their home generously to American organizations and were tireless in their willingness to appear, to help and support, or to lend helpful advice whenever needed,” praised a leading figure in the American community in Holland. All those who nominated him remarked on his unfailing availability to his fellow citizens, whether it was to speak of the importance of early detection and diagnosis of cancer, to attend the annual Thanksgiving Day ceremony at the church once attended by the Pilgrims, to don a three-cornered hat and read from the Declaration of Independence at the July 4th celebration, or to participate in the Memorial Day service at the American World War II cemetery in Margraten. A Foreign Service colleague who worked with him during that period wrote, “I will never meet another person with the charisma, force of will, savvy, and amicability that make up so much of his larger-than-life personality.”

Michael Gallagher may be gone from The Netherlands now, but his large fan club there wants him to know that he is definitely not forgotten.

Mr. Gallagher received a framed Thomas Jefferson Award certificate during Overseas Americans Week in April 2011, and his name will be engraved on the list of Thomas Jefferson Award winners hanging in the State Department.

The Thomas Jefferson Award is presented to a State Department employee who has been of outstanding service to Americans abroad.



Mike Gallagher with ACA Country Contact Roberta Enschede